Thursday, May 13, 2010

Album Review: Coheed and Cambria - Year of the Black Rainbow

Today's review is of Coheed and Cambria's "Year of the Black Rainbow"

I like Coheed and Cambria. "Welcome Home", "The Suffering", "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3", "A Favor House Atlantic", and "Always and Never" are my favorite songs by this band. I really like the falsetto voice, especially when it is overdubbed. Their guitar work is always complex and precise. I do admit that I pay no attention to the storyline that flows through their albums. I tend to listen to the music when it comes to this band, meaning I don't ingest the purpose/story/meaning behind the lyrics.
  • One - 2 Stars - While I understand why bands (especially this one on this album) create tracks like this, I have to admit that I don't like them. When looking at this album on iTunes, this track costs the same as the others. In my opinion, that's a bit ridiculous. It is a precursor of weird sounds and some piano, getting ready to tell the comic-book story that is the rest of the album.
  • The Broken - 4 Stars - A pretty decent song. Heaviness is pretty normal for C&C. I like it. This song is very layered. Would've liked to hear a little more of the vocal layers that C&C (specifically Claudio Sanchez) have done on their other albums.
  • Guns of Summer - 2 Stars - The vocals are off in the first part of the song. He is way off pitch. I just can't get behind this one. The syncopation is weird. It does have some of the vocal layers that I wish existed in 'The Broken'. Not a fan of the guitar solo.
  • Here We Are Juggernaut - 4 Stars - This song starts off very strong. The first minute is amazing. The rest of the song is good, and it had decent dynamics, but I just really appreciated the inro. It's a good song.
  • Far - 4 Stars - The opening riff is very cool (great tone). The first verse is good, and the chorus that follows it is very good too (the vocal overdubs sound great). I like the techno-sounding drums. This is a good song. It doesn't have anything that makes me overly excited, but it is a good song. It certainly isn't bad.
  • This Shattered Symphony - 3 Stars - I wasn't a fan of the intro. The intro guitar sounded fine, but when the main rift kicked in, I didn't like the syncopation on it. I didn't think the chorus was catchy at all; it was bland. The guitars during the chorus did sound fairly decent.
  • World of Lines - 4 Stars - The opening riff is a decent riff, and I like the vocals in the introductory verse. The chorus is good. I would have like to have heard Sanchez overlay a falsetto'd vocal over his chorus vocal(s) in his usual style; I think that would have been a good dynamic. I thought the drums really worked well in this song. This is a decent song.
  • Made Out of Nothing - 4 Stars - The introductory vocals are good, but the guitars are lacking throughout most of the song. The overdubbed vocals on the chorus sound great. Vocally, I think this is one of the best tracks. The beat of this song is great.
  • Pearl of the Stars - 4 Stars - I love the acoustic guitar in the beginning and the ambiance of the vocals (especially when the falsetto starts). The fuzzy guitar solo is good.
  • In the Flame of Error - 3 Stars - This song is just a normal C&C song. Nothing stands out about it.
  • When Skeletons Live - 4 Stars - My favorite guitar work on the album. The non-overdubbed vocals are kind of refreshing at this point in the album, although they are a little off key in some parts. This is probably my favorite song on the album.
  • The Black Rainbow - 2 Stars - The swirling sounds in the background throw me off a little bit. This is probably my least favorite song on the album (assuming 'One' doesn't really count). I don't like the fact that my favorite on the album was followed by my least favorite.
  • Chamberlain (demo) - 1 Stars - I spoke too soon. This is my least favorite song on the album. Where are the layered guitars? I know this is a demo, but this is bad. The drummer needs to lay of the cymbals too.
  • The Lost Sheppard (demo) - 3 Stars - I understand that this is a demo, so I will judge this one lightly. It does show some promise. The guitars were great in the intro, and I like the breakdown at around the 2:15 mark. The chorus has some promise to develop into something catchy. I really like the way he rhymes the word 'swallow' with 'follow.'
  • Hush - 3 Stars - Eh. Just a regular C&C song.
This was a decent album, but it didn't contain a song that I would deem as a major hit. Nothing stuck out to the point that I had to hear a song over and over again because it was so good.

Working from home

I am lucky enough to be able to work from home once a week. I have a new baby (mom is staying home for the first few months), and I can help out around the house a little bit. As long as I put in my 8 hours from COB on Wednesday and by the time I get to work on Friday, I'm square/legal/legit/honest.

Working from home is a bittersweet thing. It has its pros and cons. I would list them as follows:

  • You save "drive time". This means that I am gaining the time it takes me to drive to and from work, which is about 40 or so minutes in my case (round trip).
  • Save gas money. I drive 20 miles to work (round trip), and I have a truck that gets around 15mpg. This means I'm saving around $3 a day that I work from home.
  • Set you own hours. I can work whenever I want. If I can get 2 hours of work done on Wednesday night, then doing 6 hours of work on Thursday is fine as long as there are no fires to put out.
  • Lounge clothes. Gym shorts and a t-shirt all day long! I love it.
  • Music that isn't coming through the headphones.
  • Reclining. I can sit in my recliner and work on my laptop.
  • Lunch. I can eat here. There is no pressure to go out. Saves time and money.
  • Distractions from other people. If I'm at home, I need to help with the baby a little bit. So when mom takes her shower in the morning, I need to take a 15 minute break from work. When mom is doing something and the baby is near me and he cries, I need to do something about it. She wants to talk to me. She sees me sitting in a chair with my laptop, and the room is silent, and wants to break the silence. Or I may be in the living room, and she will come and turn on (and up) the TV. Her phone might ring, and she will want to have a conversation with the person while I'm 2 feet away and trying to concentrate.
  • Distractions from the house itself. If I'm working from home, I might as well have some laundry going. I might as well have my iRobot running. The dogs will bark, or they will want to go outside. These things can get distracting.
  • The pressure. I don't want people at work to think I'm not working hard at home (slacking), so I feel the need to overperform or work a little extra to prove that I am doing something.
  • Personal project distractions. Desires to do things (such as bloggin) will creep in. I'm not much for surfing the Internet (I only have a few sites I pay attention to), so that isn't really a distraction (nor is the desire to turn on the TV). But I do like doing things such as blogging and working on personal stuff.
  • Food. We purposely don't keep anything sweet or insanely unhealthy in my house because I will devour it within a few hours of bringing it home. But I still find myself checking to see what is in the fridge every time I get up.
  • Development environment. If your managers/owners are worth anything at all, they provide you with a pretty good working environment; one that is pretty industry-standard, and that promotes good work and comfort. You may not be able to recreate this at home. My work development machines are pretty good, especially for writing code (3 monitors on a Linux system). My home environment is a laptop. While my physical comfort level is better at home, my programming environment is not as nice.
It is a tricky business when trying to balance the work one must do with the flexibility that one can allow when working from home. Yes, I can take little breaks here and there, but I have to get 8 hours in at some point, and they must be good, quality hours. One of the things I am going to try to do is a weekly review of an album. I can buy an album every week, listen to it 2 or 3 times on Thursdays, and then write a review. It will give me something to do, as well as open/broaden my horizons when it comes to music.